So, you're in Shanghai! You made it. Awesome! Want to hang out? See the sights? And have fun?! Oh... short on cash, huh? No problem. Here's what you can do in Shanghai for 100 RMB (14.50 USD) right now!
For this challenge, be sure to wake up bright and early. This is a day trip, so if you wish to have a fulfilling day, you want to have as much time as you can. I would recommend you leave the house between eight thirty and ten o'clock am. Be sure to bring lots of water and possibly snacks, it is imperative that you stay hydrated (there will be a lot of walking). If you don't have any water or snacks, don't worry! It is well within the budget to buy refreshments. There are Family Marts all around the city, it is nearly impossible not to find one. If you have the MoBike APP or Hello Bike, you can incorporate this into the budget to minimize walking. Lastly, be sure to have a fully charged battery, you never know when you may need use your phone (especially in China). Let's get started!
For this trip you will be travelling to three stations (by train): Jing'an Temple (静安寺) , Zhong shan Park (中山公园） and Nanjing road (南京路）; all of which are accessible from the number 2 green line. To add to that, you will be travelling to and from the station that is closest to you. Be sure to have more than enough cash on your Shanghai Public transportation card. Each ride will cost you roughly 3 RMB (0.43 USD). To be safe, take 25 RMB (3.60 USD) out of your budget and place it on your card. There is always the possibility of getting lost. Another fun fact to keep in mind, trains in Shanghai are extremely reliable! If you miss your train don't worry, one will arrive shortly afterward. If you get lost, there are information desks in every station and they are more than happy to help.
¥100 – ¥25 (transportation) = ¥75 ($10.90) remaining
First stop, Jing'an! Jing'an is one of the many fashion districts in Shanghai. However, what sets this one aside from all others is its temple. The Jing'an temple is over 780 years old. It is truly a beautiful sight to see. You will want to exit the station at exit 1. If you time it correctly you can get in for free, but only on the 1st and 15th of every lunar month. Be sure to have your camera ready! There are three main halls you will be able to enjoy: The Mahavira hall, Three Sage hall and the Heavenly Kings. All of which have their own majestic unique styles and decorations. The environment here is typically a quite one, it's a place to wonder, reflect and appreciate art. You will witness arts in various forms, whether it's the architecture, calligraphy, paintings or whatever else you may discover in this beautiful domain of ancient Chinese culture! If you are unable to get into the temple, there is still much to appreciate from the outside. There are many shopping malls nearby and it is worth exploring if you have the time.
Are you hungry? Great there is a great spot you can find right next to The EF Headquarters. If you are an employee at English First, it is a very easy place to find. However, if you are not, the address is 258 Tongren Rd. Once you've arrived you will see a small outdoor shop to the left of the HQ building. It is known as a Jian Bing tan (煎饼摊). There are numerous amounts of these shops scattered throughout the city. What you will want to order is a Jian Bing (煎饼). This is egg based sort of crepe, inside you can put either chicken, chili powder onion… pretty much anything that suits your pallet. Vegetarian? Not a problem you choose your ingredients. The prices are very cheap. You will spend 15 RMB (2.18 USD) at most for a healthy start to the day. And yes, the day is just beginning.
¥75 – ¥15 (breakfast) = ¥60 ($8.70) remaining
Do you love nature? Then Zhong Shan park (中山公园) is the place for you! To get there from Jing'an, one must head back to the Jing'an metro station (line 2). You will take line 2 to the stop called Zhong Shan Park. After you have arrived, take exit 7. This will bring you the closest to the entrance of the park. At this beautiful location, you can witness not only nature, but various kinds of outdoor activities. From kite flying to outdoor dancing and music, this park has it all. You can walk through rose gardens and or observe large sculptures. It is extremely easy to become lost in this vast area. But it is a wonderful place to get lost in. Worried about time? Don't be! The park is open 24 hours. And its free! Make sure that you have plenty of time to enjoy this gorgeous place.
I hope you like noodles, Changping road (长平路) has a wonderful noodles restaurant called Changping Road Noodles (长平路面) - Zhong Shan Park is on Changping road. It is a healthy walk away, but it is worth it. When you exit the park, you must walk in the opposite direction from whence you came. You can enjoy their famous beef noodles for only 10 RMB (1.50 USD). The broth is delicious, and the service is quick. If you want seconds, you still have more than enough cash to enjoy more. Worried about time? You shouldn't be, this place is open 24 hours a day. If you are a vegetarian, they have options (but be mindful of the broth, I believe it is beef based).
¥60 – ¥10 (lunch) = ¥50 ($7.27) remaining
Regardless of how long you stay, Shanghai's Nanjing road and Bund are must see destinations. These tourist attractions are filled with excitement and life. There is so much marvel at: the skyline, the lights, the stores, the river and much more. Most importantly, Nanjing Road and the Bund are free and easy destinations to reach. By now, you are extremely familiar with the number 2 (green) metro line. Once you return to Zhongshan metro station, you will take the green line to West Nanjing Road （西南京路）. Then, proceed to exit number 6. Once there, you will be near the heart of this world-famous shopping district. After you are done window shopping and or sightseeing, you will want to proceed east. In this direction, the Bund lies at the end of the road. There are many Family Marts on the way and nearby, you can purchase Baozi (包子), for only 2-4 RMB (0.29-0.58 USD). Or you can grab a few refreshments; the majority of drinks here are less than 10 RMB (1.45 USD). There is a lot of walking involved, so be sure to hydrate and take lots of pictures!
¥50 – ¥15 (snacks) = ¥35 ($5.10) remaining
(Assuming you've gotten snacks from a Family Mart throughout the day.)
Let's be honest, you have been walking all day. You are tired and hungry. I know the perfect place for you. But first, you must go all the way back to Nanjing Metro station. Once you arrive back at the station, you need to travel back to Zhongshan park (中山公园). After you arrive, exit at exit 2. You continue straight in the direction you have exited from and you'll pass a large shopping mall called Raffle City. Further down the same street, you will come across a fine establishment called Beef House Village Soup and Noodles (牛家村浓汤拉面). You can have a wonderful beef soup or beef sandwich of your choice. The food is filling and because you have 35 RMB left, you can treat yourself to a grand dinner. What better way to end the night? And because your metro card has been pre-loaded with money, taking the metro back home shouldn't be a problem.
¥35 – ¥35 (dinner) = ¥0 ($0) remaining
Congratulations! You have complete the challenge! You have only had a glimpse of one of the many possibilities on how far your 100 RMB can take you. There are so many hidden treasures in this vast city, ranging from tourist attractions to hidden local markets. This is only an introduction to the many cheap and fun things that you can do here. Continue to explore, continue to discover and try everything. You never know what lies ahead.